How to keep books

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Tower of Books
Keeping books organized doesn't have to be overwhelming
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Here is a list of ways of how to keep books and keep them organized

Keeping books, or maintaining a home library, means more than just piling them on shelves or stacking them in ever-growing heaps next to your bed.  Knowing how to keep books means caring for them ... preserving them. 

Even in this digital age, when hundreds of published works can be downloaded on to an e-reader that fits easily in your back pocket, there are plenty of volumes that should be cherished and passed on to future generations ... those worthy of the time and effort necessary to protect them. 

Whether it is a family Bible that has passed through five generations, a signed first edition that you stood in line eleven hours to obtain, or a well-worn book of verse with your first boyfriend's interlineations, some works are simply too precious to sell off in favor of a digital version. 

Housing Your Books

If you plan on keeping a library, you need to plan on adequate space for your collection.  Whether you prefer built-in shelves, free-standing bookcases, or glass-enclosed shelving, it's a fact: texts take up substantial space! 

Fortunately, plenty of unused space can be found in some unconventional locations.  For instance, single shelves can be placed over doors and windows to house less-used volumes.  Space can also be carved out under stairs or in unused coat closets.  In addition, old furniture such as china cabinets, baker's racks, and entertainment centers can be repurposed and can find new life as a home for all your reading material. Lovers of shabby chic can also find new book cases made from recycled wood.

Where to Locate Your Collection

You should also consider the location of your favorite volumes within your home.  Moisture, direct sunlight, and excessive heat are all detrimental to the life of the pages, the cover, the spine and the binding.  Attics, basements, and bathrooms are all unwise locations for your library.  By keeping them in a temperate area of your home that is free of excessive humidity and harsh sunlight, you can extend the life of your books and pass the precious tomes on to another generation. 

Organizing Your Collection

Once you find a safe place for your library, you also need to consider how the volumes are actually arranged.  There are many ways to organize your collection--alphabetically by title or author, by topic or genre, even by color--but keep in mind that pairing like-sized works will reduce the chance of warping and bending; otherwise, the organization of your collection is largely a matter of personal preference.

Handling Your Collection

It is also important to be mindful of how you actually handle them.  Make sure your hands are clean and free of lotions or other products which might contain chemicals that could damage the pages or covers. 

Also be careful to never force a book open or to over-extend the binding.  It is equally important to never grab a book by the top of the spine when extracting it from its space on the shelf.  Instead, make it a point to push the surrounding works further in and then grasp by the desired one by the center of the spine.  Never bend down the corners of the pages or use them as coasters.  Don't use them to press flowers, to serve as a door stop, or to smash bugs.  Published works are for reading...not pest control.

Caring for Damaged Books

If a book is damaged, you can still protect the book for future generations.  An archival quality box of the same dimensions as the book can be used to house the damaged book until it can be repaired.  However, since many types of glue, tape, and other common repair products may actually cause further damage, major restorations should only be undertaken by a qualified professional.

While it is true that building and maintaining a home library takes some forethought, the time and effort required to properly house a book collection is nothing compared to the time and energy expended by the authors and publishers who created them in the first place.  A little bit of planning and common sense can go a long way toward preserving your library for the next generation. 


American Museum&Natural History: Preserving Personal Books

Library of Congress: Caring for Old Books

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